The big idea💡
Could we build a country on the internet?
Sondre Rasch, CEO, SafetyWing spoke about this at Digital Nomad Summit 2020 and has just launched Plumia, an unrecognised country on the internet. Their core product is global health insurance – a ‘social safety net’ for remote workers but their long-term mission is building a digital country as a membership product.
A fast-moving and software capable, technology-startup that is build from the bottom up like a company selling products.
I’m not sure if a private company is best placed to do this but then someone has to build it, and that’s probably going to be a tech startup with a global workforce. They have the education and motivation to do it. They can create a portal, start the movement and bring others on board. But they can’t do it alone.
Now is the time. Covid-19 is accelerating things and remote working has gone mainstream. As Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO said, we’ve gone through two years of digital transformation in the last two months. Brexit is finally done 😿 And we’re back in lockdown so it’s a good time to be learning online, developing ideas, and doing the groundwork.
Here’s a summary of his key points – watch online here.
A nation of borderless workers
There are 150 million remote workers worldwide with estimates of 25 million digital nomads living abroad – predicted to rise to 1 billion by 2035. This is the size of a large country and growing fast. We have a nation of borderless workers with the same needs as everyone else, which aren’t being met. We also have remote-first companies like Gitlab and Zapier showing you can build big enterprises as remote first, paving the way for others to follow.
But while the internet is like a global city, the infrastructure is not. Infrastructure is usually built along geographical divides. We have a social safety net in our home country but we can’t take it around the world. Which is why they started SafetyWing.
Not having this is a barrier to equal opportunities and freedom. The internet and remote work mean people can apply for jobs anywhere, start remote companies, and be freelancers earning a living online. But there are many grey areas e.g. where to pay tax.
5 reasons why
1. Geographical borders are obsolete and impractical. Built at a time when it made sense that people were based in one place – i.e. agriculture and making a living off the land. The internet has already removed borders – you can earn your income elsewhere.
2. A lot of countries are really bad – see the Corruption Index and you get little back for what you contribute. Common problems aren’t being solved. Can we build a better country on the internet?
3. People want a tribe and they don’t have one. People to talk to and rely on when they’re in trouble. Fun and meaningful connections. Societies are atomised – we have less identity from corporations and work – especially freelancers who work on projects.
4. The internet and technology open up the possibility to create better countries. The infrastructure will be faster-moving, with less red tape, and we can adapt quickly. There’s huge potential for improvement on what we already have.
5. Innovation and competition in citizenship are good for people. Governments will have to compete for citizens, they can’t take people for granted. They will have an incentive to improve their services. Until now, countries have had a monopoly but the balance of power is shifting back to the individual.
How do we do it?
We can either lobby to be recognised as a new country online or do it in partnership with forward-thinking countries like Estonia (e-residency programme) to solve shared problems. The first country on the internet has to be built as a membership that’s recognised by other countries. It should protect its citizens from theft and exploitation – using encryption. And have the benefits of a tribe and a legal framework. It should aim to be 10x better than the existing alternatives.
It makes sense to build on the existing infrastructure rather than trying to reinvent the wheel – those ‘60s communes didn’t work.
I’m excited about this – it’s a great idea. It’s time to rethink how and why we do things and look at what’s not working. People want meaning in their work – work/life integration. Why retire at 67 if you’re doing project-based knowledge work that’s not hard physical labour? Most people want to contribute to society, build connections and stay active – and they have tons of experience and a world view. I have a real problem with brilliant brains dying and that info not being downloaded. Loneliness is also a huge issue across all age groups.
Do we still need annual holidays if we work remotely and can travel more often? And why do we have restrictive visas that mean digital nomads have to country hop? People would stay in a place for longer and contribute more to the local economy and community if they were allowed to. Why should you pay all your tax to your home country if you’re based in other places throughout the year – and those places don’t benefit from your stay? There are lots of problems to solve – and we’ll see more digital nomad visas being introduced.
Join the movement
They are looking for leaders and contributors in remote work and nomadic space to get involved. There’s not much on the Plumia website yet but they will be sharing more info in early 2021. It needs to be transparent so we can see the business model.
We have a network among founders and politicians to make a real difference in the world, and we need a global presence, great leaders, and a large number of citizens to make it happen.
There’s also this initiative to create the world’s first e-nation (beta) and private network of global digital nomads.
National and cultural identities are great but there is a need of an additional ‘complementary’ global identity that transcends national borders, solves global challenges and presents digital nomads’ agenda to the world. This is not a replacement of any existing identities, culture, heritage or overriding ancestors. We have a huge respect for those identities. We are just addressing a need of global citizens and our new digital world.
The Advice 💬
Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order, from Atoms to Economies, by César Hidalgo.
Humanity is unique in that we accumulate information in the form of new products.
What makes humans so special is our ability to “crystallize” information, to create something from seemingly nothing but our imagination. A computer or a robotic leg are things that don’t appear in nature but had to be imagined before they could be created.
But crystallizing takes a lot of effort. When we want to create a new physical order, we need to push the limits of reality, and this can rarely be achieved by one lone individual.
Thus people work together to develop new products with the knowledge they’ve collectively acquired from older products made by other humans.
👩💻 Plumia: An unrecognised country founded by thought leaders and entrepreneurs in the remote work space
🎧 Conscious Culture: Rebuilding Infrastructure For The New World
📑 SafetyWing: 13 Reasons Why We Should Soon Expect The First Country on The Internet
📹 Digital Nomad Summit 2020: Building a Country on The Internet
📱 Digital Nomads Nation App: First e-nation and private network of digital nomads
👋 I’m on Clubhouse nosing around. It’s a drop-in audio chat social network where you can meet new people, listen to conversations and join groups. The perfect place for Plumia to nest! I love audio – it’s intimate, empathetic and you can join from anywhere – no need to dress up, write anything and you can quietly leave the room when you’ve had enough. It’s like being in a swanky hotel bar and eavesdropping on conversations – Gary Vaynerchuck! This will fly. Well done to the founders. Great marketing – they’ve been everywhere this week with people scrambling for an invite.
You can join the waitlist here.
I’ll do a proper review next week.
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Leopard print, always. Worry less and rock a red lip. Internet person, Croissant co-working, global citizen, flâneuse, problem solver.
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